TODAY   |  October 01, 2012

Meg Whitman unveils first HP tablet

Two years after taking an unsuccessful turn in the political arena, Meg Whitman is back in Silicon Valley, helming the world’s largest technology company, Hewlett-Packard. Monday, she’s unveiling HP’s entry into world of tablets.

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>>> hewlett-packard unveiled its entry into the world of tablet computers today, a big moment for the company and its chief executive. ann thompson is in los angeles this morning with that story. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. meg whitman is the silicon valley legend. she grew ebay from a start up to an $8 billion behemoth. two years ago, she took an expensive but unsuccessful turn in the political arena. today she is back in silicon valley at the world's largest technology company, hewlett-packard, trying to revise it and her reputation.

>> when i come into an environment like hp, you know what i do? i try to figure out what this company does well, and then could we do more of that?

>> reporter: but when they gave her an hp laptop a year ago, meg whitman was not impressed.

>> well, i said it was a brick. and i must say, i feel a little badly. but i think they understood what i meant, which is we can do better.

>> reporter: today, hp unveils its elite pad, a tablet for business and the centerpiece of a new line of products that combine hp's engineering and whitman 's imprint. design.

>> maybe that's the biggest change in technology over the last few years, people want something they feel proud to carry, that makes you feel great as a user.

>> reporter: it's been a tough first year for whitman . hp hp's pretty and butter sales fell. whitman is cutting 29,000 jobs. a billionaire in her own right, this is not a job she needs. so why take on this high-stakes challenge?

>> yeah. because hp matters.

>> reporter: founded by bill hulett and dave pack arrested in a pallo alto garage, hp is the cornerstone of silicon valley . while the founders' side by side offices remain untouched, whitman works out of a cubicle, a page from her days at ebay. do you ever leave here at night, thinking why did i decide to do this?

>> no.

>> reporter: you like that challenge.

>> i think you probably know me well enough to know i take on pretty big challenges.

>> reporter: no bigger challenge than running for governor of california two years ago. she spent $144 million of her own money in a nasty battle with jerry brown .

>> i am confident that the voters of california will take this episode for what it is. politics at its worst.

>> reporter: what did you learn from that experience?

>> that politics is a very tough business. here's what's different. at hp, i have a team. there are products, there's a whole company. in politics, it's just you.

>> reporter: as a member of only the second class of women to graduate from princeton, whitman climbed the corporate ladder in some of america's best-known brands. married to neurosurgeon griffith harsh, they raised two sons. in 1997 , she smashed through the glass ceiling , hired to run ebay. what advice do you give young women starting their careers today?

>> i say follow your passion. we spend a lot of time at work. so we better love what we do. and, you know, the other thing i say to young women , pick your partner really well.

>> reporter: the elite pad, this tablet for business, is unveiled today. but it doesn't go on sale until january. it is the first big test for whitman 's new vision for hp. savannah?

>> all right, ann thompson in los angeles , thank you.